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Four-game Sundays are something of a rare sight in the Premier League, thus we must cherish such an occurrence when the soccer gods are kind enough to bestow upon us a four-game slate of fixtures like the one which awaits us this Sunday.
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Manchester United vs. Stoke City — 7 a.m. ET, on NBCSN and NBCSports.com
With Wayne Rooney dropped from the starting lineup last weekend, Man United looked the best Red Devils side since — dare we say it — Sir Alex Ferguson retired. That’s all well and good, until Jose Mourinho has to pick his next starting XI for a PL fixture, Sunday against bottom-of-the-league Stoke City. The United and England captain has played in over 500 games for the club (all competitions), and scored nearly 250 goals, yet he’s no longer an automatic starter for the club. Not by coincidence, Paul Pogba scored his first United goal playing in Rooney’s regular position, just behind the striker, which is something he’ll be expected to continue doing as the most expensive signing in the history of the world.
As for the Potters, it’s been a miserable start to the season — yet to win a game; just two points from six games — and Mark Hughes will undoubtedly be wondering, “Am I in danger of being fired?” The answer is simple, Mark: yes, if you’re still at or near the bottom of the league in a month’s time. The elusive first trio of points looked on the cards last weekend, but a 91st-minute equalizer scored by Salomon Rondon extended Stoke’s winless start to the campaign. The last time Stoke won at Old Trafford, in any competition, the date was April 21, 1976.
Tottenham Hotspur vs. Manchester City — 9:15 a.m. ET, on NBCSN and NBCSports.com
Six weeks into the season, there are exactly two remaining unbeaten sides in the PL: Man City and Tottenham, who sit first and third in the league table, respectively, heading into Sunday’s showdown at White Hart Lane. For the second straight season, Mauricio Pochettino‘s Spurs possess the league’s best defensive record (three goals conceded), with Pep Guardiola‘s City a close second (five, level with Everton). The two managers know each other well, from their days as Catalonian rivals, at Espanyol and Barcelona, respectively. Pochettino has managed just one win in seven all-time meetings (to Guardiola’s four), though the Argentine has never taken a side as talented as this Spurs squad into a clash with his Spanish counterpart either.
Both sides will be without key figures, with Harry Kane (ankle ligament damage) and Kevin De Bruyne (hamstring) out weeks beyond Sunday’s duel at the Lane. Nolito (suspension) and Vincent Kompany (hamstring) will also be unavailable for City, while the quartet of Mousa Dembele (hamstring), Eric Dier (hamstring), Danny Rose (hamstring) and Moussa Sissoko (concussion) will all face late fitness tests to determine their status on the day. Heung-Min Son has shouldered the goal-scoring load in Kane’s absence, tallying five times in five games (all competitions). City’s 100-percent record is on the line, against a side that turned them over twice in 2015-16, by a combined score of 6-2.
Leicester City vs. Southampton — 9:15 a.m. ET, on CNBC and NBCSports.com
The defending champions, Leicester, are due a victory on Sunday, if their recent form is any indication. The Foxes have alternated wins and losses — both defeats coming via 4-1 scorelines — over their last four games, with the latest thrashing delivered by Man United last weekend. They’ve managed to hit the ground running in their maiden UEFA Champions League voyage (two wins in two), but the early-season league form has all but removed Claudio Ranieri‘s side from this season’s title race. Southampton, meanwhile, have found their footing under (another) new manager, Claude Puel, with back-to-back wins (and clean sheets) after a four-game winless skid to start the season.
Burnley vs. Arsenal — 11:30 a.m. ET, on NBCSN and NBCSports.com
Name a time in the last decade in which Arsenal looked more fluid, more balanced, and more ruthless with every foray into the final third. You’d be hard-pressed to do so after recent performances — four straight PL wins, by a combined score of 12-3, including last weekend’s demolition of Chelsea. Throw in the fact Arsene Wenger is celebrating 20 years in charge of the Gunners this weekend, and all of that equals another dominant Arsenal victory, right? Of course, because Arsenal have never once fallen flat on their face when you least expected them to do so.
Burnley have already claimed a pair of impressive scalps — Liverpool and Watford — at Turf Moor this season, which is critical for the Clarets, because they’ve been woeful away from home (two losses in two, both by 3-0 scorelines). With the second-fewest goals scored (five) in the PL this season, Sean Dyche will pin his side’s hopes on a potential third clean sheet of the season.
FRANKFURT, Germany (AP) Ilkay Gundogan will return for Germany after nearly a year out with various injuries for World Cup qualifiers against the Czech Republic and Northern Ireland.
The Manchester City midfielder last played for Germany in a friendly against France on Nov. 13, the night of multiple attacks in Paris that killed 130 people.
[ MORE: PST talks with Michael Bradley ]
Gundogan missed the European Championship in France.
Striker Mario Gomez and defender Jerome Boateng are also back after injuries at the European Championship.
Germany began its defense of the World Cup title with a 3-0 win in Norway. The team plays the Czechs in Hamburg on Oct. 8 and Northern Ireland three days later in Hannover.
Germany is the favorite to win Group C and qualify directly for the 2018 tournament in Russia.
In an era where managers are frequently hired and fired barely 12 months apart, Arsene Wenger has managed to stay afloat — and thrive like few others have done — for 20 years today, Saturday, October 1.
[ MORE: All of PST’s PL coverage ]
It’s an unbelievable milestone for the Frenchman, who will finish the 2016-17 season just shy of 1,200 games managed at the club. For the latest episode of Premier League Download, NBC Sports’ Roger Bennett sat down one-on-one with the Gunners’ legendary boss (above video).
Their conversation was wide-ranging, from Wenger’s early days at the club, to the world-class players he’s had the privilege of working with, to his personal philosophy about what it takes to be a successful manager.
Bayern Munich dropped rare points but increased its lead on the field, as Borussia Dortmund fell at Bayer Leverkusen on Saturday.
[ MORE: PST talks with Michael Bradley ]
Javier Hernandez made sure he out-CONCACAFed Christian Pulisic, scoring for Bayer in the win. USMNT back Timmy Chandler also went 90 minutes in a loss, as did Mexico’s Marco Fabian.
Bayern Munich 1-1 FC Koln
Joshua Kimmich’s 40th minute goal looked to have lifted Bayern out of its doldrums after the Bavarians fell to Atletico Madrid at midweek, but Anthony Modeste scored his fifth goal in six matches to give Koln a point at the Allianz Arena.
Bayer Leverkusen 2-0 Borussia Dortmund
Someone tapped Bayer out of its long early season nap, as Admir Mehmedi’s 10th minute goal combined with a disciplined, physical performance for the hosts to scoop up three points. Mexico’s Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez enters the international break in fine form after adding his seventh goal in all competitions this season.
USMNT teen Christian Pulisic got another start for BVB, and was waylaid with a knee to the back. The 18-year-old American came through the scare fine, but had a mostly anonymous match as his team struggled against a game home side.
Hertha Berlin 2-0 Hamburger SV
Vedad Ibisevic made it four goals in his last two outings as Hertha scored in both halves of a home win.
Darmstadt 2-2 Werder Bremen
Serge Gnabry had a great Olympics, and many were surprised when Arsenal allowed him to go back home to Germany. He’s picked up where he’s left off, joining Lamine Sane on the scoresheet in a 2-2 road draw.
Ingolstadt 1-2 Hoffenheim
Sandro Wagner and Kerem Demirbay scored for the visitors, whose clean sheet was spoiled in injury time by a Lukas Hinterseer penalty kick. USMNT midfielder Alfredo Morales did not make the 18 for Ingolstadt.
Freiburg 1-0 Eintracht Frankfurt
Vincenzo Grifo scored in the fourth minute, and it was all the hosts needed to pick up three points. USMNT back Timmy Chandler went 90 minutes in the loss.
Wolfsburg vs. Mainz — 9:30 a.m. ET
Schalke vs. Monchengladbach — 11:30 a.m. ET
|Hertha BSC Berlin||6||4||1||1||11||7||4||3-0-0||1-1-1||13|
|1. FC Köln||6||3||3||0||10||3||7||2-1-0||1-2-0||12|
|FSV Mainz 05||5||2||1||2||12||11||1||0-1-1||2-0-1||7|
|FC Ingolstadt 04||6||0||1||5||3||12||-9||0-0-3||0-1-2||1|
|FC Schalke 04||5||0||0||5||2||10||-8||0-0-2||0-0-3||0|